Florida school suspends student at ‘Don’t Say Gay’ rally

A Florida student claims he was suspended from his high school for passing out pride flags to students during a walkout protesting House Bill 1557.

Thousands of students across Florida walked out of classrooms to protest the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Jack Petocz, a junior at Flagler Palm Coast High School in Palm Coast, helped organize walkouts for a number of schools. He told the News-Journal he was suspended for handing out pride flags to students at his school ahead of the protest. Petocz said his principal pulled him aside beforehand, and said he wasn’t allowed to give out the flags.

“He went further to question the intentions of our protest, asking if pride flags were relevant to opposition to the bill,” Petocz told the newspaper. “I decided to move forward and handed the flags to other student organizers for distribution at the event.”

After the protest, Petocz said he was called into the principal’s office and told he was being “disrespectful and openly advocating against staff.” 

“They suspended me from campus until further notice,” Petocz said. “I informed the principal I wasn’t going to speak with him and was going to talk to a lawyer.”

“I’ve never been disciplined before and will continue to advocate on behalf of marginalized communities,” the teen added.

A petition circulating online calls on the school to rescind the suspension. It has a little under 3,200 signatures as of 9 a.m. Friday.